Climate change is challenging the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems through long-term changes to temperature and rainfall, increased threats due to extreme weather events and shifts in pests and diseases. As a result, plants will need to be more resilient and adapt to these threats, while crops must continue meeting the demand for safe and affordable food.
To address this challenge, scientists need accelerated approaches in plant sciences translating knowledge across different plant and crop species. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has joined the National Science Foundation and scientists from the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany to launch a new international funding opportunity, “Future Proofing Plants to a Changing Climate.”
“NIFA is providing U.S.-based scientists the opportunity to partner with leading research programs in the UK and Germany to find ways that ensure food production meets challenges imposed by climate change and environmental stress,” said Dr. Christian Tobias, national program leader in NIFA’s Division of Plant Systems-Production. “No single country has the resources to solve this problem alone. By joining together and bringing national strengths in different areas, progress toward this goal can be achieved more efficiently and with less redundancy.”
The minimum award amount per application is £300,000 for UK component, $300,000 for US component and €300,000 for German component. The maximum award amount per application is £800,000 for UK component, $800,000 for US component and €800,000 for German component.
NIFA-supported researchers are particularly qualified to participate in this effort because they are directly focused on national and regional food production issues through fundamental and applied science. These include scientists working with individual plants in controlled environments through agro-environmental scales in areas such as plant physiology, genetics, artificial intelligence and bioengineering.
Previous and current NIFA-funded research has created valuable knowledge, technology and genetic resources that will inform the current program. Resources such as pan-genome assemblies for individual crop species, and complementary datasets with environmental and molecular components that have been previously developed can be contributed to the new efforts and combined. The new efforts will address technological challenges that limit progress in areas where predicting performance at different scales from microsite to field to production region is critical.
“Agricultural productivity and food security cannot be taken for granted,” Tobias said. “Climate change is already making it more difficult for producers to choose what to plant, where and how to best manage their resources. Improving crop resilience to environmental stress and ensuring high-yielding, nutritious and flavorful varieties are available to be enjoyed by everyone will continue to be a USDA priority.”
Expressions of interest must be received by 4 p.m. UK time Feb. 6, 2024. Only applicants who are invited to apply may submit a full stage submission. The full stage will open shortly after the expression of interest stage closes. The deadline for full proposals is 4 p.m. UK time, May 22, 2024. For more information on the funding opportunity and proposal process, visit https://www.nifa.usda.gov/grants/programs/future-proofing-plants-changing-climate.